Roberto Carlos defends Brazil approach

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The Independent Online

It is a comment that would undoubtedly have brought rictus smiles to the faces of the suits at Nike, the sports company that has ploughed so much money into - and built so much of its marketing around - Brazil.

"Jogo Bonito [beautiful game] was created by a sports brand. We're not to blame for that," said Roberto Carlos in the wake of Brazil's 3-0 win over Ghana that took them into a World Cup quarter-final meeting with France on Saturday.

"We have an intelligent, winning football, with great champions. That's what we have always been," the defender added. "To say 'beautiful football' is more about selling things. We are playing what we need to get through the rounds. Everything is perfect."

They will not quite be ripping up the sponsorship deal just yet, it runs until 2018 after all, and involves a hefty bonus if Brazil win the World Cup. But Roberto Carlos's remarks, following on from similar words from the coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, show not only the pressure Brazil are under to perform but also that, at their core, their players are simply sportsmen who want to win.

Parreira has been here before, of course. He faced constant criticism in 1994 in the United States when he was in his first spell in charge. The team were attacked as dour and functional, dependent on the midfield solidity given to them by Dunga, suppressing flair. They won.

The coach's demeanour has even been attacked. Observers want him to be more passionate, more animated - and more like his predecessor, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Parreira is insistent that he will be proved right.

Leading Brazil to a sixth World Cup will dispel criticism although he is increasingly likely to ditch the so-called "Golden Quartet" with Adriano making way for a midfielder. That could be Arsenal's Gilberto Silva, given his strong second-half showing against Ghana, and fine display against Japan, although Lyon's Juninho Pernambucano would also be unfortunate to miss out.

Gilberto admitted Brazil are not playing at their best and still feeling their way into the competition. "We're getting there slowly," he said. "There was lots of criticism after the first game [against Croatia]. But we are showing strength of character, growing at the right moments and we know that we have got what it takes to get even better."

As for his own performances, Gilberto, who would relish facing his club team-mate Thierry Henry, and former midfield partner Patrick Vieira, said: "I'm going with my customary [quiet] way. I'm looking for a chance to play and then perform my best."

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